The Ugee m908 Digital Drawing Tablet is making waves with its ridiculously low price point and big performance promises. Because of its elegantly simple and demure appearance, it’s tempting to think that it won’t pack the punch that Ugee claims that it brings. Designers like me have been curious to find the answer to this. So the question of the day is: Does the Ugee m908 Digital Drawing Tablet live up to the hype? Join me as I take a close and candid look at the Ugee m908 Digital Drawing Tablet.
From a technical consumer standpoint, two decisions have dramatically altered and improved my professional life forever.
What I’m going to say next may turn off some of you die-hard PC users (sorry not sorry), but the most significant decision was to move off of the PC and on to the Mac. For the record, I, too, was a diehard PC user; but once I went Mac, I never looked back.
My second paradigm-shifting decision was to trade my mouse in for a Wacom tablet. I have been using the same tablet and the same stylus (with even the original stylus tip!) for the past over 15 years or so. Yes, you read that right. 15 years. Honestly, it’s probably been longer, but I dare not figure this out… I’m tired of reminding myself how old I am.
As a developer and a designer, I use my Wacom on my Mac religiously. My Mac is annoyingly robust, not allowing me the excuse to get a new one because the old one is crapping out. My Wacom tablet is very much the same. (Again, same stylus tip after 15 years!) It’s a tall order to get someone like me to switch to something new when good Ol’ Faithful is still puttering along.
It’ll be a dark day when my Mac stops working. And if I die suddenly, you won’t be able to pry my Wacom tablet and stylus (with the original tip!) from my cold, stiff hands.
Then I received the Ugee m908 Digital Drawing Tablet. “Come on, man!”, tempts my long-time friend and brilliant designer Bruce, “Just give it a try!” Hmmm. He won’t stop unless I at least “try it”. So I did. (Please don’t tell my Wacom why I gave it a little vacation. (“Little Wacom, I love you. How about you take a day off. You deserve it!”))
Would this be another significant change in my career? Or would this be just enough to make me feel guilty for two-timing on my ever-loyal input device?
Upon opening the colorful box, I met the m908 for the first time. its unpretentious size was a little surprising to me. My Wacom tablet is a monster in size compared to this. I wondered if this smaller-size tablet would be able to pull the weight that the other has pulled for me all these years. “I’m warning you, Ugee… I’m hard to please.”
Along with the tablet came the stylus, a usb-c cord, an OTG (usb/usb-c) adapter, some extra stylus tips (which, based on my past, I probably won’t need! haha), and a little clipper that helps you remove the tip from your stylus. Also in the box were a warranty card, a Quick Guide booklet, and an Android Quick Guide booklet.
The tablet has a total of 8 configurable hotkey buttons as well as a shuttle wheel. A nice little touch is that there is a little strap on the side of the tablet for you to keep your stylus. While the tablet is indeed small, in comparing it to my Wacom, the actual working area where the stylus would be contacting was just slightly smaller than my Wacom tablet’s work area. “Huh. How about that.” I could swear that the tablet winked at me at this point. Basically, it was smaller, but pretty much the same size. Does that make sense?
My first negative observation (which turned out to not be so negative, you’ll see) was that there seemed to be all kinds of scratches on the surface. Was this an open-box model?!! It looked really bad. However, there was a red sticker on the surface as well that indicated that this had a protective film on it. Really? I couldn’t see any evidence of a film. When I removed the sticker though, I could see an air bubble on the surface just under where the sticker was affixed.
I sent Bruce some pictures and he agreed that there probably was a film on this. I wasn’t sure because the film was not apparent at all. Still, I managed to find what “could” be an edge beside one of the buttons and picked at it. Sure enough, there was a film. Once I lifted and removed the whole thing, which came up quite easily and stress-free, all the scratches were gone. It looked much nicer. You know, I think it winked at me again.
The stylus (and I think many if not most designers will agree with me on this) is just as important, if not more, as the tablet itself. It provides the input; if it doesn’t feel right, if it isn’t accurate, if it isn’t responsive enough… no matter how good the tablet is, the stylus can make or break the experience. So this will be an area of interest and concern during our little review. First impressions, though, are good. This stylus is about the size of and feels like a regular pencil or pen. This is promising. After all, my Wacom stylus has always been a little thick. Sure, part of the thickness was padding that made it more comfortable to hold, but I can’t lie… it was thicker than the Ugee version.
Stubbornly skeptical (but secretly impressed), I decided to plug it in.
As always, I’m always a little apprehensive when it comes to setting up new devices. I think it’s a PTSD thing from my PC days. Believe me, it’s a whole lot better with Mac. Still, I wondered if there would be issues with conflicting drivers and such since I already had my Wacom drivers installed. Would it interfere with the Ugee drivers? Would I end up not being able to use either the Wacom or the Ugee? Please don’t make me break out that blasted mouse. Please, no. Anything but that.
A quick look through the manual. I saw somewhere that, if I have another tablet device installed, I’m supposed to remove it first. Ok, yeah, I’m gonna pretend I didn’t see that. The last thing I want is to be unable to use my Wacom tablet if I am disappointed in Ugee’s version.
After I plugged in the m908, the Mac automatically allowed me to move my pointer around. That was a good sign. Still, I couldn’t click yet. I went to the site to download the appropriate driver. Here’s a note to anyone who gets this product: when you go to the site for the driver, you will also find a more in-depth manual as well as some other odds and ends. Be sure to poke around while you’re there.
After an install and quick restart, everything worked just fine. No drama. We’re in business!
Ugee’s app allows you to configure each button and the dial. When I say “configure”, I mean that you can truly make this the way you want it… I’m talking programming specific keystrokes, opening specific applications, and even restarting your computer… with the click of a single button on the tablet! (For me, this wouldn’t be a good idea. I’d hate to accidentally restart my computer by clicking a button.)
So far, so good. Setting up the m908 was stress-free. Now the question of the day: Does the Ugee m908 Digital Drawing Tablet live up to the hype?
During the configuration, I got a preview of the potential of this tablet. There is a part in the settings area where you can test and adjust the pressure sensitivity of the stylus. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive it was. This was a good sign.
I found myself getting distracted from the task at hand (Squirrel!) and found myself checking email, renewing domain names, and, I admit it, watching a YouTube video or two. After some time of this unplanned (but often occurring) detour, I realized that I forgot all about the fact that I was using a new tablet. This was not my Wacom… AND I DIDN’T NOTICE. (Please, no one mention this to my Wacom. #BeSensitive) Within just a couple minutes, my over 15 years of Wacom loyalty was unceremoniously discarded into the background by this bright shiny new object of design happiness.
The stylus felt like second nature in my grip. It glided just above the tablet surface with reliable responsiveness. The texture of the surface when the stylus made contact and was dragged to highlight something had a slight grip to it. It was enough to not feel waxy smooth, but with some texture… like a pencil on paper. Nice. Kinda like ASMR for touch. Oh yeah, and it’s easy to do spinning pen tricks if you’re one of those people who has to release nervous energy all the time. (Not that I can relate…)
The two buttons on the stylus were a little “clicky” in both feel and sound; much the same effect as clicking a ballpoint pen. I’m not sure if this will continue over time and use, but it’s not an issue; just something to be aware of for all you highly kinesthetic and auditory people.
Back from Distraction Land, I opened up some artsy apps to see how they would perform. With every single app that I tried, I felt at home using the m908. I felt as if my workflow and creativity was not impeded in any way from this change from the Wacom to Ugee. The buttons and the shuttle wheel (more on this in the next section) worked fine.
Strokes easily went from thin to thick very smoothly based on the pressure I applied. There seemed to be no external input jitter other than anything introduced by my hand. I felt like DaVinci using his favorite paintbrush on his canvas. The only difference is that he did the Mona Lisa… and I can barely do stick figures. Sigh. Moving on.
While working within the graphic apps, the m909 behaved very well. It was attentive to my every move and had very little lag. I couldn’t be happier. Well, I could, but that would involve money and more pizza. And root beer.
Everything seemed fine in the world. Sorry, Wacom. (A silent sorry… I still haven’t spilled the beans yet.) Color me officially impressed.
One small thing that I wish Ugee did differently and I hope they will in the future – I love the shuttle wheel. But I wish it was a jog dial. Wait, you ask, aren’t they the same thing? No. A shuttle wheel you can turn. That’s about it. A jog dial does so as well, but it also has the additional functionality of being able to be pressed down, like clicking a button. Think of a shuttle wheel as similar to your channel changer on your big old black and white TV you had growing up (well, you older ones can relate anyway) and the jog dial as that cool little center console controller you have in your BMW. Oh sorry, you don’t dive a BMW? Go find someone who does. Maybe they can show you. Let’s be honest, lots of cars are knocking off BMW’s controller though, so you hopefully know what I’m talking about. (Said like the irritated BMW owner that I am.) Sorry, I can’t think of another example right now.</Anyway, this slight change would make, in my opinion, a huge improvement in functionality and possibilities… especially if the buttons could be used to further toggle what that jog dial could do. Anyway, I digress.
Another minor issue is that the vertical range of the stylus (how high you can hover above the tablet surface and move the stylus around and it still is picked up by the tablet) is about 1/4” (6.35 mm) or so. My Wacom has more vertical range, but this amount is reasonable… in fact, it took me nearly to the end of this review to notice. Still, I wanted to keep this review as candid as possible. Would I still get this knowing about the two little issues in this section? It’s a resounding “heck yes!” for me. It was an even more fanatical yes when I found out the price…
Ugee’s m908 Digital Drawing Tablet has been a breath of fresh air. It works well out of the box (even with my other tablet’s drivers still installed). Don’t forget, too, that this tablet also will work with your Android smart phone! (Unfortunately for me, I don’t see any mention of iOS compatibility. Bummer.) The pen is thin, responsive, and has great pressure sensitivity (16k). The configurable hotkeys are convenient to save you time and effort in your workflow. Last, but not least, is the fact that the tablet’s overall size is smaller than my previous tablet, yet has almost the same working space dimensions. I’m quite impressed with the m908. Then I found out the price…
Yup. For less than fifty bucks, this wonderful input device can be yours. Less than fifty bucks to improve your professional daily life. Crazy. I’m genuinely blown away. No brainer. Get this on Amazon along with whatever you normally order there. If you do, it may be a decision that changes your professional life forever. I believe it will certainly change mine.
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